The UK Gambling Commission has announced that the High Court has lifted a suspension automatically triggered by Camelot, the current operator of the UK’s National Lottery, in its attempt to stop Allwyn Entertainment being integrated behind the scenes as the new National Lottery operator.
On March 15, the Gambling Commission announced Allwyn Entertainment, the new brand of Czech-based SAZKA Entertainment, the parent company of SAZKA Group, as Preferred Applicant for the fourth National Lottery licence.
A spokesperson said: “The Commission subsequently received legal proceedings in relation to the competition process, placing an automatic suspension on our ability to formally award the licence to Allwyn. That is why, in May, we asked the High Court to lift the suspension. We made clear that disrupting the implementation of Allwyn’s plans would present potentially severe consequences for the National Lottery and good causes. It also risked the National Lottery not operating to its full potential at the start of the fourth licence.
“Today, June 29, the court agreed to lift the suspension. We will, therefore, begin the important work of formally awarding the licence to Allwyn. Our priority is to continue to work to implement our decision and ensure a seamless and timely transition to the next licence, for the benefit of participants and good causes.”
“We will also now be preparing for trial of the various claims. We remain resolute that we have run a fair and robust competition, and that our evaluation has been carried out fairly and lawfully in accordance with our statutory duties. We have taken every step possible to ensure a level playing field for all interested parties, to enable us to appoint a licensee who will engage and protect players, run the National Lottery with integrity and ensure the National Lottery maximises support for good causes and its contribution to society through further innovation and investment.
“In order to protect the integrity of the process, we will not be able to discuss the specifics until litigation has concluded,” the spokesperson added.
Allwyn UK said: “Today’s ruling is good news for The National Lottery; it enables the Gambling Commission to move forward to award Allwyn the Fourth National Lottery Licence. Mrs. Justice O’Farrell was clear that the public interest, and in particular the impact on good causes, was a strong factor in her judgment.”
Camelot, who has operated the National Lottery for 28 years, said it was ‘incredibly disappointed’ by the decision.
Camelot CEO Nigel Railton accused the Gambling Commission of not responding appropriately to questions about how and why the licence was given to Allwyn. In a court submission, Camelot said that awarding the fourth licence to Allwyn would put Camelot ‘out of business.’
Allwyn will be responsible for the lottery’s day-to-day operations from 1 February 2024.
Led by Sir Keith, Allwyn UK has built a team of local experts who work closely with Allwyn Entertainment’s lottery brands across Europe to both learn and share best practice in lottery operations, with a particular focus on how to improve draw-based games.